From Newhey to Lahore and Back Again
Date: 17th Mar 2017 @ 2:55pm
It never ceases to amaze me how children have the ability to brighten up even the dullest of days. As the weather turns rather wet and windy again, class one have just returned from their muddiest welly walk yet.I am not sure if any child or adult escaped a splattering (or dunking in) of mud. The children were so animated on their return and one child attempted to give Miss Akhtar a very muddy hug - she backed off very quickly!
The week began with a win at the Rochdale music festival for our school choir. It is the fifth time they have entered and this year they nailed it. The comments from the judge included the words perfect, brilliant and pure. The children couldn't believe that they had won and they were all quite shocked. However, having heard them sing many times over the past 5 years - I can honestly say that they just keep getting better and better - and I knew that they would have a very good chance of claiming the top spot.
As I sit here waiting for the year 6 children to return from Winmarleigh Hall, the events of the week have made me think of the children sitting in their classrooms in Lahore. They have a very different experience of school and life to the children in Newhey. Yet some things are the same. I was priviledged to watch and listen to a choir sing. The choir was made up of vulnerable girls who are being schooled and housed by a charity in Rawalpindi and the sound that they made was evry bit as pure as the sound I heard from our own school choir. I watched some very talented children in Lahore sing and dance their way through a presentation evening - very similar to how the St Thomas' children will be in the up coming our school's Got Talent competition.
This week our new EYFS outdoor equipment has started to arrive. As the equipment arrives, the children are becoming more and more excited to see what new things they will have to play with. This also makes me think back to my visit to Pakistan. The nursery and reception classes I visited and taught in were nothing like ours. The Playgroup class had children sitting at desks colouring in for half an hour (the youngest was two and a half). The teacher would rub out the marks that were outside the lines. Even the youngest children had bags full of exercise books that would put any high school child to shame - some even had wheeled suit cases that they brought to and from school every day. Despite the obvious lack of resources, the children are still being taught - some in classes of 124 - and the teachers are still teaching - all in English - despite Urdu being their first language, and life goes on and the children are happy - depite the constant threat of terrorism and the copious amount of armed guards posted outside school gates, parks, hospitals and other public places.
The problems our school faces may not be to the severity of those in Pakistan and we certainly don't have the need for armed guards on the roof top, but we are about to face a tough twelve months as the Government squeezes school budgets and introduces a national funding formula, forcing us and most other schools to look very closely at the resources that they have and looking at other ways of teaching. Being in Pakistan made me realise that with a little bit of creativity, children can access high quality engaging eduaction with limited resources and it is not the things that the children have, but the passion and the drive of the staff (with a little bit of imagination) that make the real difference to a child's education and the understanding that children need the opporunities to be children through exploration, play and nurture and the chance to demonstrate their talents in order for them to flourish and make the progress that they should.